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The Bologna Process into the next decade

Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve was the venue for the ministers responsible for higher education (within the 46 signatory states) to meet, on 28-29 April 2009, to take stock of the achievements of the Bologna Process so far and to set the priorities for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) into the next decade.

The Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué, resulting from the high-level meeting, re-confirms the validity of the objectives set by the Bologna Declaration ten years ago and that of policies developed in subsequent years, but highlights the need for further commitment for their implementation. It also underlines the role of higher education in the next decade for realising a ‘Europe of knowledge that is highly creative and innovative’. Given this role, investment in higher education will be a priority up to 2020, also in the light of the many challenges Europe is facing.

The new top-three priorities set by the ministers for the decade to come are

  • further articulation of the social dimension: participating countries will set national measurable targets to widen overall participation in higher education, in particular for the underrepresented groups;
  • making lifelong learning (LLL) an integral part of education systems: implementation of LLL policies through partnerships with all the relevant stakeholders and by developing national qualifications frameworks. It is intended to have the latter self-certified against the overarching Qualifications Framework for EHEA by 2012; 
  • fostering employability: the ministers aim at raising initial qualifications and maintaining and renewing a skilled workforce, and encourage work-placements to be embedded in study programmes.

But the trademark of the European Higher Education Area will be mobility. In 2020, at least 20 percent of those graduating in the EHEA countries should have been mobile, either for study or for training purposes, the ministers say. A number of measures that could help reach this target are enumerated, the Bologna Follow-Up Group being also assigned to define the indicators used for measuring and monitoring mobility and to consider how balanced mobility could be reached inside the EHEA.

Related to the external dimension of the Bologna Process, which ACA actively supported through its contribution to ‘The European higher education area in a global context’ strategy (adopted at the 2007 Bologna Ministerial Meeting) and not only, it was established that: the attractiveness of the European higher education will be highlighted through joint European actions and policy dialogue with other regions will be enhanced, especially by organising Bologna Policy Fora (the first having been held back-to-back with the ministerial conference). After discussions to set up a network of national contact points for better promotion of the Bologna Process outside Europe, the ministers decided in the end to make ‘optimal use’ of existing structures for this purpose.

The Bologna anniversary conference will be hosted next year by Austria and Hungary on 11-12 March, in Vienna and Budapest, while the next regular ministerial conference will take place in Bucharest, Romania on 27-28 April 2012.

Bologna Secretariat